A Tuscan Superfood Salad


Cavalo Nero

Fresh Cavalo Nero

Last week I was lucky enough to have a cookery session with Giulia Scarpaleggia at her fabulous Tuscan Cookery School, Jule’s Kitchen (www.juleskitchen.com).   On the menu, amongst other mouth-watering traditional Tuscan dishes was a Cavalo Nero salad. Now I confess to being a little intimidated by this elegant nutritious brassica with its long slender dusky dark green leaves, having learned from experience that you need to know how to prepare it for a good result.  

Under Giulia’s guidance my lingering concerns were dispelled. ‘You need to choose the tender leaves and discard the tough ones’, she reasoned, showing us how to tear the tender leaves off the tough stalks. The leaves were then bundled and thinly sliced, mixed with a handful of finely chopped walnuts and further tenderised or ‘cooked’ as Giulia said, in a balsamic and olive oil dressing, sweetened with dark local honey. The result was quite simply delicious.

Cavalo Nero, Walnut and Marigold Salad

Cavalo Nero is a member of the brassica family and like its more rumbustious cousin kale it is packed full of nutrients. It is particularly rich source of the vitamins K,A, C and B, and the minerals, calcium, manganese, copper, and iron. Added to this it is a healthy source of Omega 3.  However, these elements are fragile and easily destroyed, in fact the amounts begin to reduce as soon as the leaves are cut. Prepare this salad as close to serving as you can.  


Cavalo Nero, Walnut and Marigold Tuscan Salad

The addition of marigolds makes this a truly pretty salad as they set off the dark green Cavalo Nero with flecks of gold.  Available to pluck form a Tuscan garden  until the end of October these sunny flowers obviously aren’t readily in the UK after the summer.  

serves 4

* =see below for alternative suggestions

300g bunch fresh Cavalo Nero

150g walnuts

*1-2 marigold flowers (optional)


50ml extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

*1 teaspoon strong flavoured honey

Salt and pepper


washing Cavelo Nero leaves

many hands – Prepping Cavalo Nero @www.juleskitchen.com

Wash and dry the Cavalo Nero. Pull the leaf from the tough stalk, discard the stalk. Slice the leaves into thin strips and put these into a mixing bowl.

Finley chop the walnuts and add to the sliced Cavalo Nero. Wash and dry the marigold flower and remove the petals adding these to the salad. Marigolds add a pretty golden contrast to the dark green if they are unavailable use 3-4 nasturtium flowers, or half a diced and blanched orange/yellow pepper.

Put the dressing ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix everything well together. Adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve in a clean dish.

* if no marigolds are available or you don’t like the idea of eating edible flowers then use half a yellow or orange pepper very finely diced and blanched in boiling salted water.

*A good vegan alternative to the honey would be maple syrup or jaggery




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